Water and Agriculture

Sustainability, Markets and Policies

image of Water and Agriculture

Agriculture is a major user of water and is responsible for much of its pollution. But the agricultural sector faces increasing competition for scarce water supplies from urban and industrial users and, increasingly, to sustain ecosystems.  This conference proceedings explores how both governments and the private sector can expand the role of markets to allocate water used by all sectors and to get agricultural producers to account for the pollution that their sector generates.



Paddy Field Characteristics in Water Use

Experience in Asia

Typical arguments at international water fora advocate a competitive relation between agricultural water use and other water use, including for ecosystems. This premise is generally applicable to the discussion on irrigation in arid and semi-arid regions where water is constantly scarce. However, it is unsuitable for humid regions such as the Asian monsoon region where paddy rice culture has been developed for thousands of years, using ample natural water from rainfall, including flooded water and artificially irrigated water from various water sources such as streams, ponds and rivers. The inundated water in paddy fields and flowing water in irrigation and drainage canals serves as a network of wetlands and waterways to create another excellent secondary natural environment outside the river. Furthermore, paddy fields stretching along a river serve as a retardant reservoir that at once receives outflow from the mountainous hinterlands and irrigated water drawn from the river, and that gradually supplies the water to groundwater aquifers and the downstream river. This paper, in the context of the impact of irrigation on the environment, reviewing studies and reports of recent years on quantifying hydrological characteristics on a basin scale and identifying services for secondary natural environment in Japan, shows the unique natural features and cultural climate in paddy field irrigation in humid regions contrasting with those in irrigation in arid and semi-arid regions. It also describes international activities among rice growing countries, regions, international organisations and research institutions, namely the INWEPF, and the Japanese policy direction “Shifting to agriculture, thinking much of preservation of the environment”, and gives recommendations for future challenges.


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